A group of people standing in a room - Public Relations

This information is unclassified.

The secretary of the United States Navy has approved a recommendation from USS Spruance Commander Tate Westbrook to bring the destroyer to Key West for commissioning. To be bestowed the privilege there are several criteria for the commissioning city to meet. The city has to be a port location and an existing ability for the ship to pull in to port.

The Navy also seeks out cities which embody a navy-friendly atmosphere and will lend justice to the event by offering ample media coverage of the event to spread the word to the world about the U.S. Navy and the mission.

Then, the commander looks for a port with a direct connection to the ship’s namesake. World War II Admiral Raymond Spruance was key in the U.S. Navy winning the war in the South Pacific. He finished his career as a four-star admiral. Prior to WWII, when he was a “one-star” stationed at Naval Air Station Key West he was key is establishing harbors, ports, Roosevelt Boulevard, and was in charge of securing the Key West water space.

“Key West is a great town for the Navy,” USS Spruane executive officer George Kessler relayed to the Key West Weekly following the lunch. “Key West has easy access for the port facilities, and the island is a great place for the crew to enjoy. We evaluated every aspect, and the welcoming spirit of the Navy League, the Chamber of Commerce, and that Mayor Cates has for us was the final selling point.”

With enthusiasm, Mayor Craig Cates told the entire crowd of business men and women gathered at the Casa Marina Resort this week, “The commander has a very large say and I want to personally thank Commander Westbrook for picking Key West. This is a true honor.”

Now, for the details of this 9,844 tons of United States military power.

The USS Spruance spans 510 feet and can sail of speeds upwards of 30 knots with multi-mission capability. The DDG warship is capable of defending air carriers, defense against submarines and other ships, and precise land attacks up to 1,000 miles of shore using tomahawk missiles and five-inch guns.

“We will sail away with over a one-billion dollar price tag,” Commanding Officer Tate Westbrook revved the crowd of the destroyer’s capabilities. “The USS Spruance will let us do it all from supporting aircraft carriers to defending the country. We will be deploying all over the world as our national strategy requires. Truly the most powerful warship in the world is what we’ll bring to town.”

Admiral Spruance’s granddaughter, Ellen Spruance Holscher has already christened the ship by smashing a bottle of champagne this past June at Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine.

Key West city manager and former commander of NASKW Jim Scholl said during the initial announcement she was coming,  “Before the mid-80s they commissioned the ships in the shipyards where they were built, then decided to do them at ports around the globe so citizens could participate. Never in modern times had we had a warship. This is a good opportunity for the city, and Monroe County to say we had a ship commissioned down here in paradise.

For a DDG warship to come down here is quite an honor. This is a true, modern day warship extraordinaire. They are on the forefront of war fighting capability and this will be wonderful to have her down here for a week.”

Businessmen and women, young and old, and city leaders, are eagerly awaiting her, and her crew’s, arrival.

Commander Westbrook reminded, “49 percent of these young enlisted men and women have never seen the sea in the lives. Just think of the kid from Oklahoma who joined the Navy to see the world, and the first place he’s sent, his first port, is Key West. This is a quasi-different country down here.

With that, he presented attorney and madame president of the Key West Chamber of Commerce Cara Higgins a USS Spruance shotglass and joked, “Not that I’m glamorizing alcohol. You can put orange juice in there!”

29-48% of the enlisted crew members are between 22 and 30 years old.

Besides an entire class of naval destroyers which have all been decommissioned, this is the second ship named for Admiral Spruance. She is set to dock September 23 and will spend one week ported in Key West. The USS Spruance will be commissioned at sunset on Saturday, October 1 with a departure slated for Monday. The crew consists of 260 enlisted men and women and 24 officers.

Join Our Blast – Keys News Right to Your INBOX

Leave a Reply